It would seem that free money does indeed come at a cost. For the past couple of years the FTC has taken a keen interest in the Influencer Marketing space; fining big brands such as Warner Brothers and Lord & Taylor for not properly disclosing they had paid influencers to promote their products. It’s been widely speculated that at some point the FTC might go after influencers themselves.
While that has yet to happen, on Wednesday 19-APR-2017 the FTC sent 90 Instagram influencer’s letters about their endorsement guidelines. The names of the recipients were not disclosed, however it is known that the Kardasian/Jenners among several others were named in Public Citizens formal complaint to the FTC, as reported by The Fashion Law.
The guidelines say that using hashtags like #sp or #ad aren’t enough. The disclosures need to be up front, explicit and people shouldn’t have to click “more” to view them.
Is FTC the Trippin’?
It all boils down to trust. Some of these Instagram Influencers have followings in the tens of millions. For influencers to be paid to promote products, but do so in a stealthy or sneaky manner is viewed by the FTC as a betrayal of that trust.
The FTC’s guidelines dictate that ALL, not some but all, sponsorships be disclosed in “clear and unambiguous language”. Despite that our friends at Tap Influence in conjunction with Altimeter Group report that 48% of marketers sometimes of never require Influencers to make FTC mandated disclosures.
The Moral to the Story…
If you’re being paid to promote something just disclose it. Period. Most consumers are savvy and frankly don’t really care. If they’re “keeping up with the Kardashians” they’ll buy the lipstick, corset or whatever anyway just because Kim wore it. So there really is no need to hide.
Yes disclosures are cumbersome and annoying, but people are used to them and super fans won’t be deterred in the slightest. Will you lose a percentage of the less passionate, certainly! But a core fan isn’t likely to be shaken or stirred by something like a post disclosure.
I know this isn’t what brands want to hear. But with this latest maneuver from the FTC essentially serving as a cease and desist for some of the larger Instagram influencers; brands can officially consider the Influencer Marketing party crashed. Disclose or be fined.